Mahler 4 from Berlin

Spellbinding Mahler 4 from Berlin this evening, with expressive and searching singing from Camilla Tilling. This is Rattle’s last season with the BPO before moving to London, the Barbican and the LSO in September 2017.

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Digital Concert Hall is superb, and available on all devices and most TVs. Whilst a £12 per month subscription may seem expensive it does give you access to an archive of 100s of concerts, stretching back to Karajan days. There are live broadcasts of each concert in the BPO season and they really do make you feel you are there. Occasionally there are interval talks and eventually the concert is added to the archive. Indeed, I shall have to wait for this particular concert to be added as I had to miss the Ligeti Violin Concerto in the first half – an outstanding and unusual work featuring a chorus of ocarinas at one point!

The sound quality is superb (best fed through your hifi or home cinema system) and if you look very closely you can see the fixed cameras at strategic points around the platform. These are remotely controlled and switched as in any event broadcast, and the cueing is generally spot-on. In this Mahler concert the balance of the woodwinds and solo horn in the Scherzo was beautiful and the huge tutti at the end of the Adagio truly powerful. Rattle’s expressions as the controlled the balance were fascinating to watch, and the individual members of the orchestra are now becoming familiar faces.

On a final note, in the App version (IOS and Android) you can download archive concerts so you can watch them whilst travelling and not need any form of internet connection.

Llandegla Roundabout (Cycle ride)

(44 miles, 2400ft) Nobody likes conceding a DNS – ‘Did not start’ – on an event. I had entered today’s Anglezarke Amble, a 24-mile stamina-draining bog-trot, but after the Labyrinthitis attack of the last week or so I decided to do something not quite as strenuous. The last two days had seen no dizzy spells and I felt in fine form when getting things ready for the ride this morning so I decided to head out to Llandegla.
Today’s route I’d done a few times before and decided to leave it more or less the same. There’s an optional hilly section in the middle of the outward journey as my route crosses the Northern end of Hope Mountain and this does skew the statistics somewhat.

The weather outside looked chilly and grey, the forecast the same:- a few spots of rain and a NNE wind of around 10mph. Despite having a generally good network of cycling routes the leaving of Chester on bike is a problem if one has to cross the River Dee as there are only a few crossings- 2 road bridges and 2 footbridges, and the former are both busy. I threaded my way past the Amphitheatre and crossed the Grosvenor Bridge, heading out through Lache towards Lower and Higher Kinnerton. This is a quick road, slightly downhill, then flat until Higher Kinnerton when the road climbs steadily. I take the road past Pigeon House Farm to bypass Hope and then take the hilly section mentioned earlier, via Pen-y-parc.
This descends to join the A5104 when, after turning left, the road climbs steadily over 3 miles from 136m to 308m before dropping slightly to the crossroads at Rhydtalog from where the A5104 climbs to 341m.

Today there was snow on the grass verges and the distant hills were all white, merging into a drizzly haze. At Llandegla my route turns East and today this meant into the wind. There was sleet in the air but not enough to hinder vision and I was soon at the Llandegla Fishery, where there is an excellent café. I usually end up at the Llandegla Outdoor Pursuits centre but I’ve been there many times recently, so decided to stop here for a change.

Hardy Anglers at LLandegla Fishery

A few hardy anglers were braving the cold and a few more were in the café. The menu is superb, coffee good and the French fries brilliant. In fact there were so many in my portion I had to have my scone wrapped for eating when I got home. This a place I need to come back to with the Staff Association walking club – right up their street!

Great cafe at Llandegla Fishery

Continuing along the A525 I cut the corner by taking the B5430 down to Coedpoeth. Here the fun begins – a lovely descent on the B-road continues (with care) through Coedpoeth until the turning on the right to Nant Mill arrives suddenly. Now the fun become excitement as the route descends with twists and turns through the very pretty Clyweddog valley thrusting you quite quickly into the suburbs of Wrexham.

The route northwards is now uneventful apart from roadworks on the Marford Hill which inserted a hiatus into a usually bumpy descent.

I entered Chester from Ecclestone and over the Handbridge. It was raining steadily now but not too cold, but the warmth of home and the promise of the uneaten scone were eagerly looked forward to.
So, no Anglezarke Amble – I have done that many times – but a wonderful ride more than compensated.

Click to expand

Part 1 on Strava

Part 2 on Strava

Muddy slalom on South Delamere trails

After yesterday’s inspirational checkpointing duties I needed to get out on the trail again. After giving Loggerheads a fair pounding recently Helen and I went out to Delamere Forest to revisit two of our favourite routes. Whilst Helen went off around the lake, I headed up to Old Pale and on to Gresty’s Waste. Thereafter the mud was relentless until Summertrees (now, sadly, permanently closed). I continued down the Sandstone Trail towards Rock Farm; this stretch is mostly downhill at a perfect angle for running, with good drainage and not too much in the way of goo. The weather was grey and slightly damp, but the running was great and I felt good.

I returned via the track by Tirley Garth and through Primrose Wood, to pick up the track across the fields towards the A54. The forest trails always make for good training terrain and my mind looks forward to some of the longer events I have planned, and how I need to keep the training going. From the A54 I took Stoney Lane to Eddisbury Hill and down into the country park to meet Helen in the cafe for a well-earned sandwich and cake.

Delamere Forest Visitor Center was very busy – it is good to see so many people out and about and enjoying the fresh air and countryside. The facilities here are excellent and the cafe superb – good hearty sandwiches and snacks at reasonable prices.

Though we drove here today, we often take advantage of the local train service which has a station just half-a-mile from the visitor centre. At weekends this line is very popular.

A great weekend!


Marshalling on the Waterways 30

Lou (Recorder) , Ronnie Staton (Organiser) and Jilly (Checkpoint staff)

The running and cycling events I enjoy every year can only take place thanks to volunteers manning the checkpoints, so around once a year I try to help on an event to give something back to the sports. I took part in a 50-mile event in Nottinghamshire a couple of years ago and was impressed with the countryside and with the organisation, so I went back to Retford this weekend to help out on their Waterways 30-mile event.

Michelle, Lou and Jilly

It is really inspirational to see runners of all shapes and sizes working hard at getting round the course. The checkpoint I helped at was at the 25-mile mark and we supplied drinks and food, and encouragement, to every runner who got that far. Great day.

Full photo set … Photos

Clwyds Run 22/1/17

A run from Cilcain to the ridge, over Moel Famau and down to Bwlch Penbarras before dropping down to the western side of the range. On this side there is a path that runs along the intake wall all the way to the north of the range. I regained the ridge from Fron-haul and trotted down the Plas-newydd track eventually catching up with Helen as she finished her walk, just as we got back to Cilcain. (12 miles, 2400ft) The ridge was icy and slippery and on the main descent to Bwlch Penbarras the steady stream of walkers struggled on the steep and slippery path.

Clwyds run 8/1/17

Clwyds Run, Jan 8th 2017

Summary : start of training for a busy year of events, a tough 13-mile run starting from Bwlch Penbarra, over Foel Fenlli, around to Llanferres, over to Loggerheads, Pantymwyn, Cilcain and over Moel Famau to finish. Very heavy going with deep mud on many tracks, and plenty of steep hills. Great stuff! 13 miles, 2900ft.

On a very mild and sunny day, with many people either returning to school or work the next day, I picked a route that would hopefully be free from crowds. Helen reported from the summit of Moel Famau (MF) that it was packed, and I hoped that by the time I reached there most people would have left.

Looking back to Bwlch Penbarra, and Moel Famau in the distance, from the climb to Foel Fenlli.

We parked at Bwlch Penbarra (BP), Helen set of towards MF and I started up Foel Fenlli in fine spirits. The sun was shining, there was the slightest breeze, and I felt good. The descent on the south side is very steep but my aging Leadville 100s gripped well and I was soon trotting through fields and woods – preferring the high route to Llanferres even though it was heavy going.
It was nice to see that kissing gates had been installed to replace the awkward stiles on the path immediately NE of Llanferres. An awkward moment occurred when a tractor with a bailing pin protruding (but safely lofted) suddenly emerged from a field and the narrow lane with high hedges offered no hiding place. Thankfully the driver stopped to shut a gate and I snuck past safely.
Above Loggerheads I picked up my usual route through Pantymwyn, down through Coed Mawr trailer park and to my favourite spot – the bridge and telephone kiosk at Nant Alyn. The stream was dry, indicating that the underground route was coping with the recent level of rain – very unusual for this time of year.
I then climbed the lane South and took to paths via Tan-y-rhiw and over fields to join the Cilcain road just short of the village.
I’d indicated to Helen that I’d probably be back at BP by 16:15, which gave me just over an hour to get to, and over, Moel Famau! I don’t much like the zigzag route which runs more of less directly SW to the summit after turning right after Cae Newydd, but it is the quickest. I popped a gel and this gave me the push I needed to make the summit. 
By now the light was fading and mist and drizzle was rolling in from the North. I made quick work of the descent to BP and noted the odd assortment of people still heading up – one lot carrying gas-powered search lights, and later two runners with head torches making easy work of the ascent.
Legs were tired and beginning to cramp by the time I reached the car – I had pushed them hard on the descent – but a stretch and a quick carb-fix, courtesy of the golden arches, soon sorted them out!
I have a full year of events planned and this was a good start – my body felt comfortable and the gear all worked well. Roll on Anglezarke Amble!
Full set of photos at …

Run Everyday in December 2016

The running is the easy part! It’s always the same for me – once I’m out there and the legs are moving, no matter how sluggishly or nimbly, I’m fine. It’s just finding the time, getting motivated, putting on the gear, setting the gadgets and stepping through the door. Then I’m fine.

But, to me, this is what RED is all about – getting out there and doing it. I can relate this directly to Ultras, the stepping out of a checkpoint to get the next leg done even when the body feels as if there is nothing left; there always is. Or even getting out of bed at 5am on a cold winter’s morning to head off to some moorland event.

This year has been particularly problematic from a number of angles, lack of time, pressures of work etc – but hang on, aren’t these just excuses? Some days I just put my trainers on and trotted out in my jeans, just to get it done. Other days I had long pre-planned runs in fabulous weather. Some days I had music playing, on others I just had nature whispering to me. Some days I felt my pace increase as I worked through issues in my life, and then just relaxed – sod the PR. On a couple of days I reluctantly headed out only to harvest a bag full of PRs! 

And then there is the Community. All of you REDders around the country, and even around the world. You are really the reason I/we get out there everyday. Social Networking is in its infancy but RED is a perfect example of its power to motivate and encourage. Tony Allen – Thank You.

So, whatever running challenges you have lined up for 2017, all the very best and see you next December! 

“We are truth made in Heaven, we are Glorious!”

My album of the year is Invention of Knowledge by Jon Anderson and Roine Stolt.For those who love Tales from Topographic Oceans, Olias of Sunhillow etc this is a fully realised return to that sound and feel. Ok, Jon may still appear to be away with the fairies but how wonderfully this album projects Love, Peace and Eastern philosophy in a rich homage to Man’s powers of invention. Roine is less to the fore than with either Transatlantic or Flower Kings but his compositional skill dominates and his guitar threads its way through the mix subtly. A deeply satisfying album.